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No, that's not an air freshener, that's Google Home

A customizable speaker, assistant, smart home controller and entertainer all rolled into one, take a closer look at the Google Home.


Andrew Gebhart

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Plug in the $130 Google Home and it'll act a personal assistant, a smart home controller and an entertainment hub. It integrates with Google Assistant and other Google services to offer personalized results.

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A qualified assistant

As a personal assistant, Home can tell you about the traffic on your way to work and your local weather in your morning briefing.

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Colorful thinking

You'll see its multi-color display spin as it thinks.

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Imitation = Flattery

Google Home has a lot in common with the $180 Amazon Echo.

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Quite the entertainer

Home bests Echo by working with Chromecast streamers and controlling your home's speakers or TV. You do something similar with the smaller Amazon Echo Dot by plugging it into your home's sound system, or connecting over Bluetooth.

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Smarter home

As a smart home controller, Home works with Nest, Philips Hue, SmartThings and IFTTT.

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Look familiar

And yes, it does look like an air freshener.

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Under the hood

But I still like the design. Pop off the base and you'll find a powerful speaker hidden underneath.

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Synced up

You can play music on the Home, and also on any Google Cast enabled speaker or any speaker that has a Chromecast streamer. Better yet, you can group multiple speakers and play them together with a single command to Home.

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Changing stripes

If you want to change how it looks, you can buy different colored bases.

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Blending in

The grey one is the default, and makes Home look professional, if a bit bland. Though, in fairness, the grey base is nicely understated.

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Do the twist

The base pops off if you unplug the speaker and give it a twist.

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Snap into place

Pop on the new one and it'll automatically snap into place and be properly aligned. Home's well designed to make swapping bases easy.

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What can brown do for you?

Once you find your color of choice, you can plug in Home and download the Google Home app to get started.

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Plug it in

The plug fits snuggly underneath Home.

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Speak up

Once you connect Home to your Wi-Fi with the app, you'll need to link your Google account.

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Wake words

Then, just say "Hey Google" or "Okay Google" and speak your command.

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Ready to serve

You'll see these four lights when Home's listening.

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If you don't want Home listening, you can always hit the mute button.

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Privacy concerns

That said, Home only records what you say after you say the wake words.

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Finding its niche

We really liked Home as a smart home controller.

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Chromecast helps

It works best as an entertainer, thanks to its integrations with Chromecast.

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The competition

Right now, it might not be quite as good as Alexa. Amazon's assistant has a robust list of skills.

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So Google has some catching up to do, but it already fulfills a lot of its potential.

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Looking forward

Google Home is a versatile device now, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it becomes over time. For more, be sure to read our full review.

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